DMK parliamentarian Kanimozhi, who was in Colombo on a private visit, on Friday met Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees, his official residence.
“We primarily discussed the status of reconstruction and rehabilitation in the war-affected north and east and enquired about the progress in the post-war years. I also highlighted the grievances of Tamil Nadu fishermen to the Prime Minister, since the fishermen’s problems are yet to be fully resolved,” she told The Hindu .
The Thoothukudi MP was referring to the Palk Bay fisheries conflict involving fishermen of Tamil Nadu, who are accused of fishing in Sri Lanka’s northern territorial waters using destructive methods and endangering the livelihood of northern fishermen of Sri Lanka.
Further, Ms. Kanimozhi said she conveyed to Mr. Wickremesinghe that Tamil Nadu fishermen repeatedly complained about the Sri Lankan Navy damaging their fishing nets.
“The Navy at times is very aggressive with the fishermen who come there for their livelihood. The penalties [imposed by Sri Lankan authorities] are also rather severe now — the fishermen are imprisoned for as long as two years in some instances, and their boats are seized,” she said, adding that when the boats are returned, at times after a year, they are badly damaged and unsuitable for use.
“The Sri Lankan PM said he would look into these issues.”
Ms. Kanimozhi met the Prime Minister with a group of MPs and MLAs from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who were all here to attend the wedding of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem’s daughter on Thursday.
“Mr. Hakeem has had a long relationship with us, from my father’s time,” Ms. Kanimozhi said.
“I hope to come back to Sri Lanka soon on a substantial visit, and possibly visit the north to gain a better understanding of the situation on the ground,” she added.
Ms. Kanimozhi, who was here last in 2009, months after the island’s civil war ended. She was a Rajya Sabha MP then and part of an MPs’ delegation here on a visit.
Friday’s meeting between the visiting Indian politicians and the Sri Lankan PM lasted over “30 minutes”, according to an official at the Prime Minister’s Office.
“It was a very cordial meeting and the PM spoke about his intention to strengthen ties between Sri Lanka and south India and told them that the proposed upgradation of the Palaly airport in Jaffna was a step in that direction, to enhance regional connectivity,” Sudarshana Gunawardana, director of development communications at the PMO, told The Hindu .
Mr. Wickremesinghe also said efforts would be taken to resume the ferry service between south India and Sri Lanka, so people from the two countries could “virtually drive into the neighbour’s place”, the official said.